February 2 is observed as the World Wetlands Day. The day marks the date of adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971. This year, the theme of the World Wetlands Day is Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Deot Masih’s family has been extracting lotus root from the marshy land in his village near Gurdaspur for several decades. Delicate and crunchy, the edible roots are in high demand going as far as Srinagar in the north and Delhi in the south. Similar is the case with chestnut grown in this swamp.
A couple of Swan boats are lying beside the library wall. The cages to keep animals and birds are rusting while weeds have taken over the compound which hosts a few swings and a restaurant.
Harike wetland is the direct result of the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan. To make best use of the waters of eastern rivers allotted to it, India constructed a barrage near the confluence of Beas and Satluj in 1952 from where two canals take water to the fields of Punjab and Rajasthan.
Bakshish Singh once had 13 acres of farmland; now he only has one. He lost the rest in 2013 when the Beas river changed its course and started flowing near his house. Bakshish lives at Rampur Gaura village in Kapurthala district of Punjab, the state generally known for good roads, urbanised villages and wealthy farmers.